Secularism: Boring (Part 1A)

On Friday I will write about the Giuliani candidacy, but given the ructions kicked up by the previous post let … Continued

On Friday I will write about the Giuliani candidacy, but given the ructions kicked up by the previous post let me pause to respond. Rest assured, there will be more columns critical of secularism–in particular its political and intellectual listlessness (and, yes, religious groups will get some of the same, especially the ones that are anything but politically listless). Too, there will be posts that speak about interesting new possibilities and trends in nonbelief, especially in literature.

But please note that the ideas discussed in Monday’s post were not tantamount to saying that secularism is evil, that nonbelief is an unworthy way of life or that there is anything the least bit wrong with individual atheists or agnostics. Why would anyone have drawn such conclusions? I just said it was a bit, you know, predictable.

Another thing struck me: The certainty by which all the respondents assumed that the author must be a religionist, a fundamentalist of some sort, or a person constitutionally ill-disposed toward atheists and agnostics. It was as if the assorted crowd had never—never once—heard a nonbeliever (yoo hoo!) criticize nonbelief.

So, come now nonbelievers, forgo the martyrdom complexes, conspiracy theories and herd mentality. You are the heirs of a restless and proud tradition of inquiry, are you not? Soar, little ones, soar like Nietzsche’s noble bird who flies high because he wants to see, and then flies higher because he wants to see more.

By Jacques Berlinerblau | 
July 18, 2007; 1:53 AM ET


Save & Share: 

 


 

<!–Twitter
 –>

 


 


 


 


 


 

Previous: Secularism: Boring (Part I) |

Next: About This Project

<!–
Main Index –>

  • Mary Cunningham

    I quite like Nietzsche, professor, but maybe you should cite another famous atheist. Trying to reconcile his Christian upbringing with his atheism drove him mad…that plus the syphilis, of course.

  • A Hermit

    I’m glad you’re going to clarify things; not all of us missed the point, and some of us even agreed, at least in part, but you could have been clearer. Starting your post with a snarky comment about the bad behaviour of atheist commentators was bound to get people riled up, and it was quite unfair to those of us (and I think it’s most of us) atheists who try to be civil and respectful, at least with those believers who treat us with civility and respect.RegardsA Hermit

  • Dirigible27

    Congratulations Jacques:You just survived a Left-Atheist scalping operation. There are a lot of angry and self-righteous atheists out there. Some of us like more refined forms of nonbelief. Was it your philosopher who said, ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’? Keep up the good work

  • Faithless in US

    Secularism’s strengths and weaknesses are wrapped up tidily in Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem. We desire to know everything, but alas, we are restricted only that which is knowable, and these are indeed two different sets. The faithful speculate madly on what is unknowable and behave as if it were fact, to the detriment of the species. The unfaithful should simply accept that some things cannot be known, but often our arrogance gets the best of us because our intuition begs us to assert things that can be neither proved nor disproved.To the extent that secularism is predictable, it is mostly a matter of good science, repeatability of thought experiments if you will. We are continually assaulted by those who point to some archaic scripture supposedly written by the One True God or by persons who knew Him personally. This rubbish has created the death cults of the torah, the gospel, and the qu’ran, which are fervently seeking mutually assured annihilation in order to fulfill some dubious prophecy or another. Religious Traditions that don’t grow into nice homey relics of antiquity, but which are practiced out of context as if they are still relevant today are a recipe for stagnation. Even in peace, stagnation is death for humanity.–FIUS

  • rm -rf

    “I just said it was a bit, you know, predictable.”Actually I dont know… you have not said anything of any intellectual content yet – all you have done is called a few secular critics of religion “soccer hooligans” and said secular thought is boring and predictable and old… what a powerful devastating critique, I am sure the secular community will rethink everything – gosh all our ideas are old and boring… however you have not justified, backed up, or in any way supported these statements – except to say that evangelicals have more political influence, I guess might makes right… you know, old, boring Europe is pretty secular – if you really want to help the secular community instead of sucking up to your religious employer and trying to sell a book no one wants to read you might want to compare how the society in the US stacks up to some European countries and see how they manage to keep the secular sphere open… hmm maybe they have some laws against hate speach, or don’t coddle churches with tax exempt status – just a thought

  • matt

    Perhaps the discussion of belief systems in real discourse is not for you if you find them boring like some kind of petulant teenager.

  • rm -rf

    “So, come now nonbelievers, forgo the martyrdom complexes, conspiracy theories and herd mentality. You are the heirs of a restless and proud tradition of inquiry, are you not? Soar, little ones, soar like Nietzsche’s noble bird who flies high because he wants to see, and then flies higher because he wants to see more.”Oh yeah – please don’t feed us this condescending and insulting crap – I don’t need you to tell me about a proud intellectual tradition of secular thought – you have it exactly backwards – you need to tell us where is the intellectual content of religious thought because offhand I can’t think of any proud tradition of religious inquiry – I am not sure it can even be done -unless you want to tell us about bibilical criticzm and how various generations of scribes misquoted the orignial text over the generations – but then I would recommend the book “misquoting jesus” and not yours

  • seattledodger

    i liked it better when you called us hooligans.now it’s ‘herd mentality’ and ‘martyrdom complexes’ is it? so, after rubbishing dawkins, et. al. (never by name and never with evidence, just a drive-by) and insulting the ‘minority of the secularists’ that we atheists represent, now you’re back to sneer some more.well, you’ll get the response you seem to want. and it’s fully deserved. baiting trollers like you shouldn’t be give this type of forum.you aren’t even intellectually honest enough to define what the hell you mean by ‘secular.’stop making crude and dishonest generalizations about folks, dude. it makes you look like a damn christian.

  • sb

    I am continually amazed at the amount of time spent analyzing belief. In particular, I find it interesting that those who conduct such analysis rarely discuss how it is a peculiarly Judeo-Christian enterprise. That is to say, other religious and mythical traditions don’t rely on the historical truth of their beliefs to justify faith, and as a result tend not to spend much time arguing whether faith is justifiable based on the historical record.For lack of better language, I will call myself a secularist. In my case this means that I believe man created “God” to help put some context behind the shared sense that the universe is ordered, and that society functions properly when it is governed by a common set of rules.This sentiment certainly conflicts the beliefs of some holding to the Judeo-Christian faith, who are taught to expect that mythology is based on historical truth. (So, for example, Christians have their own fantasy-adventure stories that serve as “counter-point” to the Harry Potter series, as if the Harry Potter books were ever intended to represent an image of how the world in actual fact “should be,” and in complete ignorance of the reality that the mythology and social exegencies underlying stories such as Harry Potter predate christian mythology in Europe by a thousand years or more.)From my perspective (being only one voice) a system of belief that honors the inherent or intrinsic divinity of all things, and thus the common nature of all things, makes more sense than a system that separates the divine from the worldly, so that humans have to cultivate a “special relationship” with the divine, which relationship is dictated by rules imposed by the divine force. But that’s just me. Call me a “sinner” for believing that the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and the “tree of everlasting life” are allegorical….

  • E favorite

    Prof Berlinerblau – I’m very happy that you came on to clarify and very sorry you did it in such a condescending way. I was serious when I suggested that you talk with a trusted confidant about your communications issues. Please don’t dig yourself in any deeper. If you have something worthwhile to say on the subject of secularism, I want believers and non-believers to be able understand it. Don’t you?

  • David Bordson

    Thoughtful atheism is not boring, but like thoughtful theology, it takes more effort than Americans would like to expend. Americans like to be part of the studio audience, watching the spectacle of angry accusation, cheering the home team that is inevitably “right”. What does the author expect when he sets the debate in these terms?Whether secular or believing, our great danger is constructing a dogma that begins with the assumption that we are right. From our dogma, we work backwards, whether through Darwin, the Bible or the Koran, to find snippets of “truth” that substantiate our beliefs. Darwinists justify greed and power through the survival of the fittest. Religionists justify greed and power as a gift of being right with God. Either way, you end up with a bunch of self-righteous individuals. I would argue that the atheists are much less dangerous because at least they can be engaged.When an atheist justifies treating others like objects of manipulation, one can point to ideas like cooperation and resilience to prove that Darwinian biology is more than competition. To athiestic relativists, one can show that post-Einstein physics shows that all is not relative but in relation.Dogmatic religionists are much harder to address. When a person or group starts from the assumption that they are the only bearers of truth, that they are exactly aligned with a static God, what can you do to stop them? All you can do is hang on until they screw everything up, proving that they are not God.President Bush is the prime example. Remember his Crusade comment? He started the war in Iraq based on dogma. They cherry-picked intelligence, fired generals who didn’t agree with their thoughtless strategy and didn’t plan for the security of 25 million Iraqis. They didn’t need to listen to uncertainty because they were self-righteous.Since then, Bush has approved secret and illegal wiretaps, probably monitors journalists and organizations who don’t agree with him, allows torture, and has presided over a war that has killed more than 100,000 people. Yet he still plows ahead because God tells him he’s right.If everyone who claimed to be Christian actually read the Gospels, it might be easier to stop theocratic lunacy. In America, that’s not possible. The Pew Trust has found that most Americans don’t even know that Jesus gave the sermon on the mount, let alone know what it says. Instead, we have a weird cultural Christianity that mixes nationalism with a brief checklist to ensure your righteousness: anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-war, anti-evolution and anti-taxation. If you meet these criteria, you are right with God. End of story.Christianity and athiesm would both do better to start from the truths of our finitude, our inability to clearly understand the Truth of Everything. We could begin to move forward from a point of faith, that is, we do our best to live and learn, in relation to our neighbors and our enemies. We would understand that we are historic creatures who are not sure that we have improved some little fragment of life until we look back across history (and even then we won’t be certain). Even our scientific “truths” get thrown on their head on occasion.This little proposal doesn’t have as much appeal as carrying God’s flag to glory or smugly believing that our “reason” is superior to our faith. But it would certainly make us aware of our need to come up with a sustainable way of living in the world, religious or not.Life on Earth is cruel and short but it’s all we got. I and Thou, baby…

  • A Hermit

    David Bordson;Picture me standing on my desk applauding your comment…RegardsA Hermit

  • Andrea

    David Bordson, “If everyone who claimed to be Christian actually read the Gospels, it might be easier to stop theocratic lunacy. In America, that’s not possible. The Pew Trust has found that most Americans don’t even know that Jesus gave the sermon on the mount, let alone know what it says. Instead, we have a weird cultural Christianity that mixes nationalism with a brief checklist to ensure your righteousness: anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-war, anti-evolution and anti-taxation. If you meet these criteria, you are right with God. End of story.”Bravo!.

  • Matthew Raleigh

    I am sure it has been said and will be often repeated (since I don’t tend to read the comments before I make my first post) but… One of the reasons secularists may come off as hostile to the believer crowd is because, in many circles, we are considered “evil”. It’s difficult to constantly be forced explain to people that atheism doesn’t mean devil-worship even though it is often correlated in the same conversation. When I said that I agree with Jacques – that atheism is boring after the newness wears off – I meant that it’s difficult to compete with the highly charged emotional high and social environment that comes with religious affiliation. Of course, it’s not really a competition but rather a plea for rationalism and tolerance from the religious nuts (sorry, couldn’t help but toss that one in there). Unfortunately, it becomes a competition when our leaders decide to impose their beliefs on society as a whole. When the line between church and state gets blurred under a cloud of faith-based exclusivity, secularists have no choice but to respond aggressively so that we can provide a safe environment for our own children. Personally, I would much rather have a peaceful discussion rather than a heated argument but when your opponent is screaming from the top of the mountain, you occasionally have to scream back just to be heard.

  • Anonymous

    David Bordson continues the assault: “When an atheist justifies treating others like objects of manipulation, one can point to ideas like cooperation and resilience to prove that Darwinian biology is more than competition.”do you have any evidence, even anecdotal, that atheists actually treat poeple this way? in fact, do you have any evidence that atheists have ANY attribute in common, other than not believing in god(s)?this whole thread started out as an intellectually dishonest endeavor, and it has just gone downhill.if you faithful want to temporarily abandon your faith (apparently at will) and call it ‘secularism’ i sure won’t stop you. it isn’t even the most bizzare aspect of your belief in the supernatural, i suppose.but hiding your motives and beliefs may make you feel more tolerant or whatever, but it’s a fraud. ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ doesn’t work with sexual orientation, and it doesn’t work with deeply held convictions.what a load of crap.

  • seattledodger

    sorry, the last post was mine but it lost the sig line:David Bordson continues the assault: “When an atheist justifies treating others like objects of manipulation, one can point to ideas like cooperation and resilience to prove that Darwinian biology is more than competition.”do you have any evidence, even anecdotal, that atheists actually treat poeple this way? in fact, do you have any evidence that atheists have ANY attribute in common, other than not believing in god(s)?this whole thread started out as an intellectually dishonest endeavor, and it has just gone downhill.if you faithful want to temporarily abandon your faith (apparently at will) and call it ‘secularism’ i sure won’t stop you. it isn’t even the most bizzare aspect of your belief in the supernatural, i suppose.but hiding your motives and beliefs may make you feel more tolerant or whatever, but it’s a fraud. ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ doesn’t work with sexual orientation, and it doesn’t work with deeply held convictions.what a load of crap.

  • lbw

    The statement about “soccer hooligans of reasoned public discourse” has been on my mind ever since I read the article the other day. As a veteran of the early feminist years, I am immediately reminded of the comments directed to feminists like, “you women have become so strident,” or “you are acting so ‘unfeminine,’” and many others along the line of get back in the kitchen, serve the coffee and be quiet and “nice” like ‘normal’ women. A similar thing is happening now to atheists like Harris, Bennett and Hitchens who have come out punching, so to speak, landing on best seller lists instead of cowering quietly in a corner like atheists are “supposed” to do. What the author calls “reasoned public discourse” was getting us no where with atheists around the country who have been previously timid about coming out of that quiet, safe corner. Harris, Bennett and Hitchens are not acting like ‘normal’ atheists to both the right wing (we should cower) and to the ivory tower (we should have reasoned discourse). I vote for the “soccer hooligan” approach to popularizing atheism.

  • E favorite

    Prasheel – I didn’t trash his book, I commented that it has not sold as well as recent books by atheist commentators. It’s a factual statement that applies to most books. Bestsellers are rare, no matter what the subject or the quality.As I asked before – “Please mention some of the good points Berlinerblau made in his essay. Then, if you’re so disposed, offer your thoughts on those points.” Since you seem to like his book too, perhaps you could do the same for it. It would be a greater favor to Berlinerblau and much more productive, I think, than complaining about me.

  • Anonymous

    “It was as if the assorted crowd had never—never once—”read the comments..pity poor berlinerblau.

  • Burfordholly

    Methinks the author is attempting to dig himself out of a hole left by the previous piece, which was poorly written.The issue is not so much faith as it is grasping for political power. Religion practiced privately is above reproach. Religion in the public square that demands political power must be met with analysis, rebuttal, and usually ridicule. Religion and politics discards “one man one vote” for “one man who claims to represent God’s vote.”The part that is really lost on Millenialist fans of Revelation is that the Beast is a politician who fuses church and politics while all or most Christians follow blindly.How can Millenialists miss the most obvious prophecy of Revelation – that it is the Millenialists who are the servants of the AntiChrist?

  • Andrea

    Burford,”… the Beast is a politician who fuses church and politics while all or most Christians follow blindly.”That sounds vaguely familiar…..hmmm

  • E favorite

    LBW – Great post!just for the record, it’s Dennett, with a “D”and don’t forget Richard Dawkins, the Oxford scientist, who also wrote another bestseller about 20 years ago – about evolution.

  • Diana Forester

    Specifically in response to RF’s comment, “I don’t need you to tell me about a proud intellectual tradition of secular thought – you have it exactly backwards – you need to tell us where is the intellectual content of religious thought because offhand I can’t think of any proud tradition of religious inquiry – I am not sure it can even be done.” I would seek to remind the reader that intellectual thought was originally within the context of philosophy, a discipline whose texts and traditions were later preserved by monks living in Monasteries in Asia minor, Europe, and Northern Africa. The proud intellectual tradition of secular thought springs from a Judeo-Christian foundation, one which (this is illogical according to SB) separates the tangible world from a metaphysical one, thus allowing for non-mythological empirical inquiry. Aside from providing the backdrop for the Scientific Revolution, centers of religious worship in southwestern Europe allowed for the reincarnation of the academy in the form of the college/university–without which a secular intellectual paradigm would never have emerged. Aside from providing a medium for cause-and-effect questioning, religious (especially Catholic) traditions are rich with philosophers whose works approximate those of more secular modern philosophers in elegance, breadth, and cogency. Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, and Anselm (among others) sought to resolve the apparent disparities between ancient Greek philosophy (a polytheistic tradition) and Christian dogma so as to understand the universe in its entirety. Such a synthetic effort among theologians, biologists, physicists and atheists is lackluster today, if not completely absent. Recognizing that logic/science and religion are not mutually exclusive is the first step not only towards a greater understanding of our world but also towards the emollition of hostilities between various aforementioned groups.

  • DB

    SEATTLE DODGER:I never said that athiests are all of one kind – just that selfish, greedy atheists can be engaged in debate. As far as the meaning of scientific understanding in terms of secular philosophy, there is a ton of good debate – and respect. I suggest reading Daniel Dennett’s eulogy to Richard Rorty in Slate Magazine.There are a lot of different Christians in the world as well. Many come at their faith with humility and compassion for their fellow human beings. Many also have no problem killing, oppressing and causing great pain.You’re right about “conviction” – when someone assumes they’re absolutely right in their theories they become rigid. Read Einstein’s biography. Same holds true for religion. There were plenty of religious zealots fighting for slavery and the old kingly caste society. But there were people – deists, theists and, yes, atheists who had faith that, after the tumult caused by the change, things would be better. No one knew for sure going into the fray.Sorry you are so angry. By the way, what’s so intellectually dishonest?

  • Rich Kolker

    When the Washington Post has an equivalently large section entitled “On Reason”, then those of us who are non-theists will begin to see balance and acceptance.In the meantime, we have to continue to put up with the majority screaming they are oppressed and trying to delegitimize those of us who don’t agree with their superstition.

  • E favorite

    Diana Forester, when you say “…centers of religious worship in southwestern Europe allowed for the reincarnation of the academy….” Are you referring to the Muslims in southern Spain?If so, or even if not, why not be clear about it?Earlier in your post, you mentioned a “Judeo-Christian” foundation, but then use the vague terminology “centers of religious worship.” It makes me wonder what you’re trying to hide. Why not see exactly what religion it was, as you did earlier? You seem to have a lot of knowledge – please, if you’re going to share it, go all the way.

  • A Hermit

    SEATTLE DODGER asks “do you have any evidence, even anecdotal, that atheists actually treat poeple this way?”Sadly, some do. Think Karl Rove, for example…(and don’t take my word for it, ask Christopher Hitchens… Now go back and read the rest of that comment; especially his conclusion:”Christianity and athiesm would both do better to start from the truths of our finitude, our inability to clearly understand the Truth of Everything. We could begin to move forward from a point of faith, that is, we do our best to live and learn, in relation to our neighbors and our enemies. We would understand that we are historic creatures who are not sure that we have improved some little fragment of life until we look back across history (and even then we won’t be certain). Even our scientific “truths” get thrown on their head on occasion.This little proposal doesn’t have as much appeal as carrying God’s flag to glory or smugly believing that our “reason” is superior to our faith. But it would certainly make us aware of our need to come up with a sustainable way of living in the world, religious or not.” I thought Mr. Bordson was actually making a pretty good point.RegardsA Hermit

  • Doubting Thomas

    So, you snarl at secularists, accuse them of intellectual listlessness and reducing discussion of religion in the public arena to a list of insults, and are surprised at the reactions?A touch less arrogance, a touch of humility, these would be welcome. Others may not be as aware of your brilliance as you yourself are.

  • Diana Forester

    I apologize for the vagueness—it is difficult to pare a thought down to the length that the average blogger will read. Because of this, I tend to attenuate my posts. I admittedly know less about the Islamic intellectual tradition—but was referring to the fact that academies, whenever they began to arise during the Renaissance, did so generally as an outgrown to churches—usually monasteries. This was because, often, the highest concentration of literate people was there. I said Southwestern Europe to mean Southern France and Italy, thus eliminating the Balkan States and Greece from the equation. You are right, I should have simply listed them. I also say “centers of religious worship” because over the time period with which we are dealing, the Great Schism as well as the Reformation took place. Instead of differentiating between Catholic, Eastern/Russian/Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Ethiopian Orthodox, Luthern, Calvinist etc. I those to be vague. Is not the taxonomy of Christianity convoluted? I hope this serves to clarify!

  • Gaby

    I don’t understand why so many are upset with Jacques. I read his little piece and felt it was full of satire and irony. Did I miss something?

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Professor Berlinerblau,”Rest assured, there will be more columns critical of secularism–in particular its political and intellectual listlessness…”There is a basic flaw in your conception of things, which you share with that intellectual icon, Bill O’Reilly.Bill constantly inveighs against “Secular Progressives” and their nefarious, un-American, anti-religious plots (“The War on Christmas”).You seem intent on launching a similar crusade against “secularism.”The problem for both you and Bill is that there are no such things as “Secular Progressives” or “Secularism”, in the sense of these being organized groups that act as a unified force with certain particular ends in mind.You can speak this way about the “The Roman Catholic Church”, “The Anglican Communion” and any other organization that is centrally directed and acts with a single purpose.You can even, if you are careful and cautious, and recognize that it’s not really accurate, speak about certain somewhat distinguishable groups such as “American Fundamentalists”, “American Pentacostals”, or even “Quakers”. There is no centralized organization here, and no unified purpose in these groups, but they probably share within themselves enough common traits that it’s not outrageous to speak of each them as if they constituted an entity.But when you and Bill O’Reilly speak of “secularism” and “Secular Progressives”, as if these things exist as actual entities, what you say makes no sense at all.People with “secular” beliefs (whatever that may mean, but which are certainly diverse), have no centrally-directed organizations, and do not act in concert or with a single purpose. “Secularists” are harder to herd than cats.So, Professor Berlingblau, what you and Bill O’Reilly do in your pronouncements, is not to create straw men to knock down, but to create straw unicorns, which, since they do not exist, cannot be overturned or defeated.

  • ERAD

    PRASHEEL and E-FAVORITEBerlinerblau’s book is a total trip. Very funny and very serious discussions of secularism. It’s from Cambridge, so give the professor his due. (I will try and dig it out and post the definition of secularism)But, I mentioned before, he is a sort of conservative and can go off on people, especially liberals. I thought the post today was kind of funny.

  • seattledodger

    note to contributors.my latest post was held by the ‘blog owner’i figured that this thing was edited for content, but now i know for sure.congrats, prof. you’ve managed to call people names and insult with impunity while shutting down any dissent.how christian of you.

  • rm -rf

    Diana,

  • seattledodger

    A Hermit and DB,sorry guys, but when i tried to respond to your posts, the blog owner sent me a message saying they’d grabbed my post (no explanation). nothing personal, i really tried, but this is what you get from this blog.odd that the author would accuse us of harboring ‘conspiricy’ theories, followed by the editors blocking posts. gives us some insight about these editors at least.anyhow, i suggest the Comment is Free section of the Guardian (Brit paper). the contributors are uniformly better than this sad example.cheers lads, not staying where i’m not wanted.

  • Zinga

    Nietzsche? Yes, he’s interesting, but a lot of what he says strikes me as nonsense. I would actually prefer to have a more reasonable person serve as the public voice of atheism, even if he or she is a little less interesting. It’s no accident that this call for a more interesting form of atheism comes from a professor in a humanities discipline. It’s natural for an expert to imagine that the standards of his own trade should serve to measure all others (I think Socrates is supposed to have said something like that), and of course the market for publication and employment in the humanities places an extraordinarily high premium on novelty. But public discourse on a larger stage has its own decorum, and I think Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens may understand it better than Berlinerblau.

  • victoria

    i guess the author, as a non-religious person, knows best which barb will cut non- religious thinkers the deepest. so what ive learned is that you can accuse rationalists of just about anything- but to relegate them to some intellectual non-importance such as “boring” seems to be the achilles heel. religious and non-religious can both be guilty of a lack of self critique. i guess we all have our weaknesses. in order for me to see the superiority of rationalism over religious dialogue, personally, as a self described religious person- i guess this will incur a flurry of attacks, but that will only solidify my suspicions that the rationalists dont necessarily have a superior alternative to the religious strivings already extant. its not a comnparison- and doesnt need a block of tired criticism of intellectual one upsmanship (which to me is just as distasteful as spiritual one upsmanship) but some honest searching for truth and fineness would be more appreciated. if one is already congratulating oneslef on their cleverness- it doesnt need to be restated. but is cleverness the end goal?

  • victoria

    post prayer thoughts- is there a rationalist equivalent of prayer? part of my prayer is minute self examination and looking under the rocks of my being for squirmy selfishnesses and pettinesses and unkindnesses – but after the prayer part there is conscious “practice” and determination to become a more valuable and giving force on this planet- the prayer itsef is like humanity practice for me- is there a humanist affirmation practice that makes people more conscious of their innate goodness or intention to be a better force? and while there is a great deal of derision expressed about mindless followers and sheeple in religion- are there no humanists that can walk in the shoes of the religious and try to find some value in these enterprises? just wondering aloud again. (for my own edification and personal observation, comparing my own posts- post prayer always seems gentler and kinder-) ok peace all

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Victoria, It’s called “Meditation”.Regards.

  • A Hermit

    “when i tried to respond to your posts, the blog owner sent me a message saying they’d grabbed my post”Yeah, Seattle, the site software does that if you post too often in too short a time, or put too many links in a post (I’ve run into both.) Sorry, no conspiracy here, just spam filters.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but meditation is unpalatable to most true atheists due to the spiritual overtones. Meditation and Contemplation are theistic in nature. Its like having an Atheist Bible or Atheist Psalm. Both have been written -but are useless to an atheist.

  • E favorite

    Diana Forester – thanks for the clarificationSeattledodger – if you’re still here – sometimes funny things happen to my posts too, but then the same message will post again later – nothing personal.One thing you can’t do is put more than two internet links in a post.Another thing that won’t post is foul language. Not that I’ve ever been bounced for that, but never seeing such language here, I figured it must be getting filtered out.Erad – if I see Berlinerblau’s book in a bookstore, I’ll definitely check it out.

  • Rob Adams

    David Bordson wrote: “I would argue that the atheists are much less dangerous because at least they can be engaged.”This mongrel theist likes the atheists. In my experience I have found them to be at least as engaged as any other group. Of course as with any group there are ‘extremists’ atheists out there who shout down believers but for the most part my experience has been atheists are rather civil and open minded. I guess one space where I would like atheists to be more…open is to the concept of a deity… whether it is more of a pantheist view or a monotheistic view it does not matter. I think many (most) religions think they have God nailed, I do not think this is the case. I would like to enlist the help of atheists and have them to bring their logic to the table to help define what a deity would be like… if one existed of course :) Instead of using logic to disprove God exists take the opposite and say it is only a theory and how do we evolve this idea and make it more credible.Like many of Einstein’s theories that can not be proven until years later our concept of God can not necessarily be proven, but that doesn’t mean we abandon the quest. It would be interesting to see what definition or different theories of a deity we would come up with compared to those of established religion. I would argue the atheists may be able to get closer to ‘the truth’. Wouldn’t that be ironic.

  • B-Man

    You’ve criticized atheists on style–we’re listless and boring–but sometimes just trying to uphold reason in the face of insanity (the rapture is coming this year, God is directing George Bush) is not all that sexy. But it’s still a worthwhile endeavor, and one worth sticking up for, even by religious pundits such as yourself.Try to focus on *content* over style and maybe you’ll get a more reasoned, less emotional response from your readers.

  • E favorite

    Hey, Anonymous – have you done a survey or something? And what’s “true” atheist?I don’t see anything theistic about meditation or contemplation. Is some supernatural God being prayed to?It would be interesting to know different atheist attitudes about these things.

  • B-Man

    Meditation, and Zen Buddhism itself, is purely atheistic. You are watching your own mind, not praying to some deity.

  • victoria

    no- not meditation- im talking about a conscious THINKING process- an active practice and refining- of the positive qualities that theists and humanists agree upon- rob makes a good point- why is it so hard to suspend disbelief to try to look at anothers ideas? at least to make an attempt to understand how others think different from ones own thought processes. well, ill wait for some answer to my questions,

  • Anonymous

    ROB ADAMS:Some interesting points. Actually, I’m not a mongrel theist – I was born and raised in a liberal Norwegian Lutheran Church. The line goes back through Protestantism all the way St. Augustine (and the Bible). I like atheists about as much as I like Christians – in general, it’s all over the board. There are athiests who are impossible to deal with: those still living with the idea that they a chock-full of reason. We all walk around controlled by a lot more myth than substance (check any of the leading research on ignorance), some just put God in the equation.Self-justification through one’s “specialness” whether the cool head of reason or the passion of a God – is the big problem. Hubris is the operative word.By the way, I like your idea for athiests to drum up God. There have been more than a few religious people who have been willing to confront the possibility of being wrong about the existence of God. They just won’t be invited onto CNN…

  • Anonymous

    “Is spirituality a critical ingredient of meditation? Comparing the effects of spiritual meditation, secular meditation, and relaxation on spiritual, psychological, cardiac, and pain outcomes.”Interesting read on pubmed .

  • Rob Adams

    Victoria.When you say affirmation I couldn’t help but think of the old Stuart Smalley skit from SNL.“I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!”But, back to reality.While contemplation can be very useful meditation can be either a more focused thinking process or no thinking at all. You can meditate or contemplate on a an idea, love peace understanding, you can just clear your mind and try to tie into something larger. Contemplating is very useful. To quote Wayne Dyer “We did not discover the laws of floatation by ccontemplating the sinking of things”. Whether it is a affirmation or just contemplation or meditation each can lead one forward.

  • daniel

    The modern atheist movement is quite superficial. I find nothing noble or moving about it. More like sheer emotion and herd mentality. No real thought put behind it.As an example of thinking about atheism, right off we can see there is a dismissal of the concept of God. This should be obvious. Next we can see that we enter the realm of the dismissal of absolute notions of goodness and evil. It is possible to have notions of goodness and evil without a creator such as in Buddhism, but in studying Buddhism we notice that an extreme effort in thought–relentless discipline and thought–was put into living in a world without a creator. The modern atheist movement has nothing of that.Next we can obviously see that in dismissing a creator we enter a world of Heraclitean change–there is no unmoved mover (God) therefore all is change. Therefore atheism can only be a perpetual transgression, a celebration of flux, a riding of the wave of flux in perpetual creation of morality to be equal to flux. Atheists these days seem only concerned with statements such as “I do not need God to be good. It is absurd to need God, to be constantly threatened, in order to be good”. This misses the whole point…The point is without God and absolute notions of good and evil no good and evil can ever be taken for granted as good and evil and we must constantly reflect on such to be equal to change…Continuing, this notion of arguing for being able to be good in the absence of God as a defense of atheism is preposterous because it is not so much that one should be able to be good in the absence of God but that one can be evil without feeling in the least a bit of superstition, that there will be some retribution (divine) for one’s actions. I for one am a man that can rip up a Bible, I believe in scientific evidence,–I can even dismiss the existence of God (there is no proof of such)–but if you were to ask me to really test my atheism and ask me to prove it by committing some heinous crime, I would shrink from such because of not only a lingering residue of belief, but because I have the exact scientific fact that I live in a mostly unknown world and I do not want to really take chances with what might live behind existence…This last sentence will no doubt make many atheists laugh and say I am an example of a man that needs the fear of God to be good, and…I would agree. But I would say in return that the notion of being able to be good without the fear of God is no real proof of atheism in oneself and that to really prove such one should not only be able to be good in the absence of God, one should easily be able to be evil because of course all one has to fear is one’s fellow man and not God…I find modern atheists quite unphilosophical. In fact I find Sam Harris flat out a fake. He once wrote something about having had a mystical experience (without a belief in God) in Israel and I saw right off that it was nonsense (I know a bit about mystical experiences). As for Hitchens, I have read very little but what I have read confounds me utterly. People say he is sharp and writes well but I found him confused and his writing perfect gasbag English (see his recent reply to Gerson in the Washington Post).I could go on and on. It seems none of these modern atheists has done any real reading at all. If they would do some reading they would find that perhaps atheism cannot really be a movement at all and is rather something only individual–the perpetual cutting edge–because it is always engaged with positing man as the answer to existence and this is always a challenge and atheism (if it must be considered a type of religion) is a religion which always grows stale unless there are relentless pioneers always trying to modify behavior, define good and evil, and direction in every aspect of direction, in a world without God.It is a tremendous and dangerous responsibility. Ideally because it is a dismissal of God and therefore a celebration of change–perpetual movement–its goal can only be something of being so equal to change one becomes as God and capable of changing anything as one wishes…But to do this it requires incredible scientific advance, incredible flexibility in personal behavior (something of Ghandi plus the violence of a Samurai plus Renaissance man universality, etc.).It seems none of the modern atheists grasps this at all…Once again what we have is just a rather emotional movement, just another group jockeying for position in American life. I am extremely disappointed. It seems every noble concept is brought low in the U.S. If we do not have Evangelicals bringing Christianity to the point of low fascism we have modern atheists on our doorsteps with childish notions of everyone just being good in a world without God and that religion is evil and science good and…Well why bother with a complete listing?No imagination–that really sums it up. Not a single one of these modern atheists has impressed me as to intellect and creative power. Not one.

  • Ruth Lindsay

    This is simply incoherent…

  • victoria

    norrie- you miusunderstood me – my own experiences with meditation are long and varied- thats not the point at all. meditation had its place in my life for many years- however- its not even a necessary component for my question. i think the question was pretty detailed and clear-for the purposes of an answer- meditation doesnt fulfill the criteria. its just an insufficient answer- the merits of meditation arent related to this query at all. i have my own deep and plenty experiences with it norrie- i cant dismiss something ive embraced for so many years- it just doesnt answer the question at all.

  • thersitz

    Bordsen!

  • Maurie Beck

    Matthew Raleigh – One of the reasons secularists may come off as hostile to the believer crowd is because, in many circles, we are considered “evil”.There is one way to take the wind out of your opponents sails; agree with them. Embrace the evil of secularism and atheism. The Jews have been accused of deicide and drinking the blood of Christian baby’s. Why fight it. We did kill Jesus and we have our hammer and nails ready for the second coming. Also, I only drink the blood of Christian babies on Passover, because I hate the taste of Maneshevitz. By the way, as many know, I am a member of the communist, Jewish, atheist conspiracy of international bankers, media moguls, and secular humanists.If you embrace your evilness, we may even let you come rape and pillage with us. Jolly good fun.

  • Gerry

    Daniel,your post is a conglomerate of worn-out statements any believer would make towards atheism. There is not a single thought other than the prayer mill attacks against the evil and stupid and boring atheists. With that so ubiquitous mindset, of course, everything you wrote can be predicted, almost literally, because the only way of thinking at your disposal about the universe is justification of your belief and hate (hating something or somebody can be a very relieving, almost libidinous emotion!). And with a certain “operational” intelligence (not to be mistaken for the ability for judgment), you can “prove” just anything and its contrary with it. Your childish idea to avoid testing god by rather not committing a “heinous” crime is below any serious consideration: I don’t fear god (when I was an immature youngster, of course, I feared the image I generated of him, result of the brain-washing of a “benevolent” surrounding), and lo and behold – I don’t commit “heinous” crimes. However, any free-thinking attitude would have been a crime in not so distant former Christian times, punished with death, and in some minds, not only many Muslim minds (apostates must be killed!), it is to this day still regarded as such.You prove and even state again, that your religious belief is based on threat and fear, so “just in case” god exists, you prefer to stay on the safe side, the old boring Pascal’s wager story you sell as an original idea! My atheist motivation has nothing to do with yours, because I think there is an immanent morality in humans. There is also the natural phenomenon of empathy, no religion needed (I don’t know what you read, as you brag about reading so much, accusing non-believers to be so stupid only because they don’t read what YOU think they should!). Have you ever come across the “mirror neurons”, which also exist in our closest relatives, the primates? But then, you don’t find such research in your preferred literature. Church leaflets certainly won’t print them.It is more than boring, it borders on Chinese torture how people repeat ad nauseam the old debunked meme of their particular imagined version of god being the only possible source of morality. It obviously yields high satisfaction to cultivate the illusion that the collective brainwashing results (you talk about herd mentality!) are original, personally created ideas!God tells you about absolute good and evil? GOP Senators think Bush is good. Iraqis (and most of the rest of the world) think he is evil.There is nothing wrong with Heraclit’s “panta rhei”. If you have looked in the mirror for some years, you would have to agree with him! All existence, even in basic matter, is movement, therefore change, development, evolution. All energy, even spiritual energy, yields change. Only death is unmoved.

  • Anonymous

    “It seems to me that this study proves absolutely nothing about anything.”Norbert. That’s so-o-o banal. But I forgive your predictability. You are an atheist and you don’t believe.

  • Rick Wingrove

    We hear all the time that atheists are “angry”. This is (a) a bogus charge, and (b) a cheap, dishonest way to disregard our concerns. If the adamantly religious can convince themselves that our assertive tone is really nothing but unfounded hysteria, we can be ignored and they can continue to fail to address issues. Whether or not there is anger involved has nothing to do with the content of pertinent issues. Nevertheless, I see no need to disavow any anger. After all, Atheists were hunted for bounty for 1500 years. And in certain countries, it will still get you beheaded in a soccer field. So, a little anger is understandable. Plus, the rabidly religious believe stuff that is demonstrably false, acting as if it were true, unwilling and unable to assimilate objective truth, and generally acting in ways that are destructive to everyone. That kinda pisses me off. And strident? Ever seen a televangelist railing against gays or atheists or sinners or “false” christians or liberals or sex or fun or privacy or those who don’t provide enough cash? Ever heard the phrase “hellfire and brimstone”? Stridency is nearly synonymous with religious fundamentalism.We (Atheists) find ourselves the most detested minority in America, with virtually no governmental support and some very high profile enemies perfectly willing to utterly disregard our rights. To the extent that they sneer at the founding Constitutional principle of separation of religion and government, they threaten the rights of every American to be free from some other man’s crazy, self-serving form of divine lunacy.So, please bear in mind, that self defense is not an attack – it is a Human right and a necessity for survival. And no matter how it gets spun, and despite any “anger” it arouses, in this ongoing verbal joust, they freakin’ started it.

  • DB

    Thersitz…Do I know you?

  • Skeptic21

    I had trouble finding this, little ones. Are they hiding Jacques. I was hoping to find his next piece, “Logic: Boring (Part 42),” or even some possible explanation as to how Jacques got this gig and how, after writing such drivel, he keeps it.

  • daniel

    To Gerry: I do not go to church.I will now state again some problems with modern atheism–more clearly this time as I admit I was in a rush last time and not very coherant.1) Atheism is a dismissal of GodThat should be all for now. Hope I was clearer. Atheism is not successful unless constantly the total remaking of man and society to constantly be equal to a world without God.

  • Rob Adams

    Daniel.To reset the stage I am a theist, though a mongrel theist. Some rather thought out points, but I don’t totally agree with some of the principles you out line.You said dismissing God leads to no absolute notions of good and evil. You also said main must then from an atheist perspective constantly reflect on what is good and evil. Correct me if I am wrong but I read these as being a possible downfall of atheism. I actually think these are good things. We live in a relative world and therefore there is no real absolute in terms of good and evil. I know this is a complete contradiction of established religious teaching, but the basic misunderstanding of good and evil is part of the problem. It is time to move beyond the absolutes proposed by religion which was man’s attempt to understand. We are no at the point where we need to move to the next class and understand more. Yes we must constantly re-evaluate, but that’s good.I observe that for the most part the notion of God and good and evil has not taught us anything here on Earth that we have been able to apply. Killing still runs rampant on our planet.Morality is also relative. Morals really come down to what works and what does not work given what we want to accomplish. The system, the universe/life, is built to be self sustaining. If people become too destructive they will perish, but the universe/life will go on. Life forms will continue to pop up in the universe. Stars and galaxies die and give birth to new life, including humanoid. It will move on without us.If we learn we survive and evolve. Even a world of atheists could learn that “morals” may be in there best interest. Whether they discover that from God or from trial and error they still discover it. You said we would be re-inventing morality on a constant basis if we follow the atheist path. I don’t know if it is re-inventing morality but we could use further our understanding of the concepts and how the truly fit into the world.The tricky part however is it probably also requires a new definition of God and that is one sticky wicket! I still want the atheists to take a crack at creating a ‘theoretical’ God from scratch and see what they come up with. They may teach the rest of us something.

  • E favorite

    Hello all – I’m just back from the book store where I perused Berlinerblau’s “The Secular Bible. The introduction begins with this assertion: “In all but exceptional cases, secularists are biblically illiterate.” There’s no reference to any survey done on the subject, and no footnote indicating the source of this information, even though he has 54 pages of notes at the end of the book. Thus, I start off distrusting him, because my own experience indicates the opposite. I and my atheist friends are more biblically literate than most of the believers I know. I didn’t even think much about the bible or religious history until I started questioning my faith. Since then, I’ve read numerous books and have taken several courses – and find this is typical of the non-believers I’ve come to know. They are extremely interested in and knowledgeable about religion and most were raised in a religious tradition. Could I and my friends be the “exceptional cases” he refers to? Possibly, but it’s unlikely that we’d be so clustered, and considering the rash, unfounded statements he’s made on this blog, I see no reason to take him seriously on this.I have no doubt that the many referenced statements in his book are accurate and dependable. He is a scholar, after all. But given his specious opening sentence, I cannot trust his other non-referenced statements.

  • jay

    We need to stop thinking of atheism as the totality of any one’s philosophy. I’m sure there are atheists out there who have not thought it through, just as there are theists who simply accept the doctrines of their faith without doing much heavy thinking about it. Atheism isn’t even the starting point for many of us who don’t see much substance in theism. If you look at the scientific evidence and find it compelling as an explanation for why the universe is as it is, then atheism or agnosticism simply follows as a byproduct from that naturalistic perspective. You don’t have to construct elaborate explanations for atheism, you only have to look to the evidence for naturalism. The burden is on the theist to explain why he needs to have a deity in his philosophy.The debate isn’t between theism and atheism, it’s between theism and naturalism.Secularist remains a confusing term since some religious people are secularist in their view of religion in public life. All naturalists are secularists, but not all secularists are naturalists.

  • Rob Adams

    Very well put Jay.

  • A Hermit

    Rob and Jay; thank you for the perceptive responses to Daniel. If I had read yours first I might not have bothered composing my own, but it’s too late now, so I’ll inflict it on you anyway…1) Atheism, for me, is simply the absence of belief in the existence of gods. i do not utterly dismiss the possibilty, I just haven’t seen any reason to believe.2) An absence of belief in the existence of gods does not lead inevitably to the kind of nihilism you seem to think it does. I have a very keen sense of my place in the universe and in the human community, of being part of a much larger whole. There is firm footing for a healthy sense of good and evil right there.3) Of course we must take responsibility for our own lives and be prepared to adapt to circumstances. That’s called learning…teh alternative to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.Do you really think that religiously based morality has remained constant for the last 2000 years or more? Thankfully it hasn’t, or Id be hiding from the inquisitors right now…4) I’m not sure what tihs is supposed to mean: “atheism is supreme movement because it is the demand that man constantly be equal to change–that unless man develops by his own hand he is nothing.” Maybe you could explain it better. Is it a bad thing to change? To take responsibility for our own actions and learn from the the consequences of those actions? And how does any of this make atheism “supreme? Maybe it’s just me, but I find this statement very confusing.5) The idea that one would “prove one’s atheism by…being able to be evil” is just insulting. I strive every day to be a better man than I was yesterday. Is that what you call evil?6) You seem to have an awfully distorted view of atheism. It isn’t a “movement;” just an idea. There are all kinds of atheists “strong”, “weak”, agnostics, humanists, even a few of the nihilists you describe, (though I would suggest they are a tiny minority) and lots of people who are simply just not very interested in religion.In my experience, however, most atheists and agnostics think very deeply about moral and ethical questions, contrary to your assertion that we just assume it is already understood. Atheists tend to be curious types and liek to ask hard questions and test the answers. I think that’s better than relying on some antiquated list of “dos and don’ts” compiled hundreds, or thousands of years ago by an ancient tribal culture.You’re right though, if we don’t believe in gods we really do have to “become more responsible, more capable of fineness of moral perception.” I really don’t understand why you think this is a bad thing…7) Like your conclusion that atheism leads to nihilism, I think you are leaping to an unwarranted conclusion with the idea that an absence of belief in the existence of gods makes human beings some sort of “supremely adaptible animal.” It makes us part of the natural world, and in my opinion should prompt us to be more humble and reverant toward the world we live in. Rather than dominating and changing the world to suit us we should be figuring out how best to fit into the world in which we find ourselves.Again, I’m not sure if I’ve really understood you here; it almost seems to me that you’re just stringing together inflammatory phrases like “supremely adaptiable animal” without much regard for what that might really mean. Again, maybe it’s just me, but perhaps you could clarify what you mean by this.8) This last one puzzles me a little too: “One is not an atheist–one must constantly prove oneself such.”Atheism is, for me at least, nothing more than the absence of belief in the existence of gods. It’s not something I have to prove, to myself or anyone else, and it certainly doesn’t depend on anyone else, let alone the whole human race, joining me! On the contrary, if you want to convince me that a god or gods exist you’re the one who has to do the proving. I’m not sacrificing anything to Zeus until you do…or did you have some other god in mind? ;-)RegardsA Hermit

  • jay

    Rob and Hermit’s points are very good, thanks. We seem to be hitting the same idea, from slightly different angles.That’s the curious thing about theists who seem terrified that morals and ethics might evolve over time, or become unhitched from religion, as society changes. They seem to have a strangely distorted view of their own religions, as if those faiths themselves have not changed and adapted over time. They see a slippery slope if we actually change our perspective on morals and ethics whereas I see the necessity of humans adapting to new challeneges and striving to better the situation for their fellows.Everything evolves, whether its organisms, religions, languages, law, societies, or knowledge about our world. Get used to it.

  • jay

    Rob, if I had to take a crack at coming up with a theory for god, it would be something like the god of deism. Perhaps “god” would be the overarching pattern that governs how energy and matter interrelate (what we try to undertsnad through laws of physics), and would’ve been laid down in the first nanoseconds following the Big Bang. An outside observer might be able to tell at that moment if this universe’s pattern would produce life, maybe even sentient life, or not. Some little pockets of that universe would become what we call life, and some of that life would evolve to a stage of sentience that it could understand the true nature of its existence (after many awkward attempts) and reflect on its origin billions of years earlier. Maybe even learn to manipulate the raw materials in a way that it could be the originator of a new cycle, thereby completing the circle … god as both the beginning and end product of a given universe.I know, that’s not very original. And it’s not a god you would pray to, but it would be something to marvel at.

  • globo-mojo

    show me a void that isn’t boring. Malevich’s Black Square of 1915 was boring, but REVOLUTIONARY!!

  • A Hermit

    OK, I’ll take a quick shot at this too: “I still want the atheists to take a crack at creating a ‘theoretical’ God from scratch and see what they come up with. “I guess the only kind of “god” that would make sense to me would be the pantheist version; kind of the idea that if you add up everything in the universe, past present and maybe future too, that’s God.I don’t have a big problem with that kind of definition, except that it just seems unnecessary to me.RegardsA Hermit

  • Rob Adams

    Hermit and Jay.I appreciate the effort .Hermit when you say “it just seems unnecessary to me” in what way unnecessary? Jay you said “and none very satisfying to anyone”. What would be satisfying? Jay you also said there is insufficient evidence so we would end up with a naturalistic model. I believe God combines all of deism, theism, pantheism and monotheism. I know that seems like a few dichotomies but really these are false dichotomies. From a scientific perspective my belief in God is based on hypothesis(“a proposal intended to explain certain facts or observations”). What is the basis of this hypothesis; religious scripture, even fables had some basis in truth at some point an time! People who have “spoken to God, some more credible in my eyes than others. Other dimensions / parallel universes (as theorized by scientists) or states of consciousness (OOBE especially Robert Monroe’s work which was rather scientific, NDE’s particularly children). Monroe’s work especially inspired me as he just didn’t float around, but met sentient beings and had discussions on ‘heaven’ with these beings. Through their hemi-sync technology there were able to re-create the conditions so that other people can have these experiences. And best of all personal experience, mostly through meditation. For me the last one and a couple of people who have spoken to God give me enough create my hypothesis, to ‘believe’.All of this to me suggests something more. Some of it has scientific theory attached, some does not. At some point in a scientist’s career they believed enough in something to create a hypothesis even though it is not supported by facts at the time and they set out to prove it as theory. To prove to one’s self that God exists it helps to ‘experience’ it. Some people do this in meditation; some do it through worship, some do both and believe yet don’t actually ‘experience’ something. I just find God the most interesting ‘hypothesis’ out there. Even if I don’t end up proving it to anyone else, the things I find along the way should prove useful; understanding/evolving morals, consciousness, society. For me I believe until some one proves God does not exist. For an atheist they do not believe until some one proves God exists. If someone does every prove God one way or the other I hope we reach out to the other and help them bridge the gap rather than say ‘I told you so’. In the meantime I certainly think there is enough to bind us.Peace

  • jay

    Rob: It strikes me that, given the variety of “god experiences” that different people describe, the god hypothesis may be best described (and experimented with, for those so inclined) by looking inward rather than outward. Maybe that’s all it collapses down to … brain chemistry and a particular state of mind. In which case, all the efforts to find evidence by looking outward into the universe are aimed in exactly the wrong direction. And if it can only be experienced on an indiviudal level, then there is not much to suggest that it can be objectively understood, although the underlying neurology that makes it possible probably can be, eventually. (I don’t know anything about hemi-sync.)That sounds more Buddhist than any of the other models (monotheism, pantheism, deism).

  • A Hermit

    “the god hypothesis may be best described (and experimented with, for those so inclined) by looking inward rather than outward.”The way I see it we are just little bits of the Universe looking back at itself. When that view actually comes into something approaching a full scale perspective it’s really beyond our comprehension, and the feeling of being an infinitesimally tiny part of an unimaginably big whole is what people describe as a religious experience, or talking to God (unless they actually hear a voice, in which schizophrenia seems more likely…). It’s more like we’re looking outward by first looking inward (that sounds even more “Zen”…)————-Rob, when I say ““it just seems unnecessary to me” I mean just that. I am in awe of the natural Universe; I recognize that its scale and its mysteries are beyond my puny human comprehension. Why would I need to give it a name like “God”? It is what it is, and it’s much to big for me to presume to be able to package it all into a neat little one word definition.Especially when that word has so much baggage attached to it; it immediately conjures up all kinds of cultural and religious attributes; attributes which are all too human. It anthropomorphizes that awe inspiring Universe and in doing so actually, for me, diminishes it. I guess I feel that in giving up “God” I’ve actually discovered something much bigger. Why would I go back?RegardsA Hermit

  • jay

    “Especially when that word has so much baggage attached to it; it immediately conjures up all kinds of cultural and religious attributes; attributes which are all too human. It anthropomorphizes that awe inspiring Universe and in doing so actually, for me, diminishes it. I guess I feel that in giving up “God” I’ve actually discovered something much bigger. Why would I go back?”Yes, I agree, although I have nothing to go back to since I never was a theist.

  • Rob Adams

    Jay:Brain chemistry and neurology could certainly play a part, but that could also just be the physical tools for helping interpret something separate from the body. As for inward instead of outward I have always liked the saying “what you can not see on the inside you can not see on the outside”. I think that perhaps it is easier to go inward and find something than find something outside. That does not preclude that it can not be found outside there are just a lot more distractions on the outside to cloud your senses.Any model of God tends to exhibit more truth depending on the moment and situation. Including when an atheist tries to define what a ‘hypothetical’ God could look like. You just might be right. Regardless atheists should have a place at the table. As you stated jay being an atheist is the sum total of who you are. Your actions demonstrate what you are and what want to be. That applies to all people.

  • jay

    “As you stated jay being an atheist is [NOT] the sum total of who you are. Your actions demonstrate what you are and what want to be. That applies to all people.”I think the corrected version above is what I said earlier. I was saying that “atheist” is not a good descriptor because it only says what someone is NOT, and not what they DO believe or accept. That’s why I prefer the term naturalist (in my particular case, that covers both the conventional and philosophical definitions of the word).

  • Rob Adams

    Hermit.I can agree that our version(s) of God we come up with are the best shots at comprehending what God/Universe/life really is. As for people talking to God being schizophrenic, that could certainly be the case. But if you look at some of them they just seem ‘normal’ and the content logical. Though talking to God is definitely not the norm!As far as the term God having baggage I will not disagree with that. That is why I think we need to refine our understanding of God. I think that will only come from the actions of people who think of God in a new way and their demonstration of who they are.Mind you if Christ shows up on CNN that could change everything.  Though unless he showed up in the same cloths and spoke Aramaic then many people wouldn’t believe him unless he quoted scripture like the think he should. I think his message would be different than many people think. Perhaps a few miracles would help too. I think we could all consider that proof.To answer your question why would I go back? Go back only if it would serves your purpose? What do you wish to discover about life or the universe. You may discover what you want with or without theism. Any way gotta run for now.Peace

  • daniel

    To all from Daniel. I wrote a few essays over the past couple days–one a decent variant of one of the essays. When on faith gets around on the main page to discussing atheism again I will put them up. As they are too long (although not that long) to put up here (actually the real reason is I want to reflect again and again on the problem) I will just start afresh with some of the points in mind I put up earlier. Hopefully I will be clearer to all and put everyone in preparation for the essays when the time comes.1) I will simply reflect on what atheism means to me and let everyone decide how this differs from their own opinion. Atheism first of all is the dismissal of a belief in God. But right off this is problematic. There is no proof there is not God–existence is largely unknown. The proper stance should be that there is no proof of God and no belief in such should stand in the way of using our imagination and scientific method to prove or disprove God. But to simply say there is no God is as absurd as to say there is a God. We should be making every effort to both prove and disprove God to gain a full picture of pros and cons. I am well aware of the scientific method and that science puts all things on hold until proven–and even wears its proven theories lightly as they may one day be demonstrated false or superceded–but it is one thing to jump from scientific method to the dogmatic assertion there is no God.2) The last thing we want to be dogmatic about is atheism as it is the constant discussion as to whether or not there is a God.3) The problem of good and evil. Atheism in denying a creator automatically becomes problematic as to notions of good and evil. Absolute notions of such are automatically discarded unless proof of such is discovered or if a belief in absolute notions of such is held in the absence of a creator. We would expect a scientific atheism to acknowledge no belief in such and to demand proof of such. Buddhism has been considered an atheistic religion because of the denial of a creator but Buddhism is problematical from the scientific atheistic viewpoint because of holding quite fixed notions of good and evil in the absence of a creator–and in fact Buddhism leans oddly toward a creator in a sense by positing the concept of nirvana which is to be achieved by breaking the cycle of rebirth (reincarnation which in itself is problematical from the scientific atheistic viewpoint).4) Scientific atheism has no absolute notions of good and evil in mind–no creator so far in existence and no absolute notions of good and evil. What this means then is a world of flux–a purely dynamic world–a world of movement and which is why I say atheism properly understood is the very definition of movement and vice-versa. To be an atheist is not really something one can be but what one must constantly prove as it is the demand to constantly be equal to change and in fact to master change–the perfect adaptive system. This is a far greater responsibility than any religion so far has demanded and necessitates constant brooding on morality, what good and evil are–and what good and evil are could very well change drastically depending on the demand to be adaptable to environment. Atheism man without God and taking his evolution in his own hands. 5) A very serious problem for modern atheism–atheism as promulgated by many people I have been hearing about–is the type of atheism which puts forth comments such as “I do not need God in order to be good. To need to be terrified by God in order to be good is barbaric. In fact it is religion which is evil and if people would just stop believing there would be more good in the world”. This type of reasoning is problematic for various reasons. Among them is the disturbing tendency to believe that the good is arrived at by a simple sort of mental operation called stop believing in God. Still another problem is this notion of being good without God–as if this is proof of atheism. Listen closely: atheism is not demonstrated by being good in the absence of God for the simple reason that anyone can rip up a Bible and declare disbelief and be more or less good. By being good one is still in the “operational sphere” of religion. One cannot be taken seriously as an atheist. In fact one has not really tested whether there is a lingering residue of belief in oneself, a lingering fear of God. That can only be accomplished by being evil. A true atheist should not only be able to be good in the absence of God, he should be able to be evil with no real fear of God and only a fear of man. We have something of a catch-22. Declaring disbelief is no proof of separation from belief in God. One must demonstrate such. The average atheist can snicker when I say I can rip up a Bible and even disbelieve in God but that I would not really want to test things by really getting God angry–the average atheist will snicker and say that obviously the fear of God is making me good and that I cannot be good without this fear–but unfortunately for the atheist the flip-side is that he himself has to be evil to demonstrate a true separation from a belief in God. And it gets even trickier…6) The atheist to truly demonstrate he is separate from God must embrace evil–must truly demonstrate a separation from God and all laws derived from God–but if he is too evil he defeats even possible man-made laws and in fact becomes a nihilist…So he must be just this side of evil, evil enough to demonstrate he is an atheist, but not so evil he is a nihilist. In fact being just this side of evil is what is required to take the narrow gate of man going down through the centuries without God, constantly rebelling against laws and adapting continuously, but not so transgressive that nihilism is arrived at. But here is where it gets funny: precisely because the atheist cannot really demonstrate his atheism–which requires true nihilism–he is in perpetually only a “sort of” atheism and not really removed from God even though departing as much as possible. In other words he swings a wide orbit but he is still in orbit around something even if he wants to call it something other than God and all religious conceptions so far. True and total atheism is unachievable. One can only disbelieve and transgress so far–kind of like the laws of music where we can have a Schoenberg and Ornette Coleman but still there must be some type of order and pattern which shades into the past and is the inescapable order we live and move in. In politics it can be stated as something of a controlled French revolution, one perpetually achieved without the terror of the French revolution. 7) So in the final analysis God can be defeated only so far. We can radically alter the concept but cannot achieve perfect atheism because perfect atheism is a challenge to God to the point that one becomes nihilistic, dares him to make an appearance–we are required to do so to really get at our disbelief, to prove there is no God. But this of course is disaster so we once again and always fall back into orbit around God–only a wide orbit and one ever more clearly defined and sophisticated in a fashion worthy of Kepler.This is all I have to say for now. I hope it inspires reflection and I hope on faith addresses the problem of atheism soon again. Probably it is a project which must constantly be engaged. But then again I said that: atheism is not understood and successful unless constant human movement, development. But this constant human movement, development cannot ever be true atheism which is the total denial of God to the point of nihilism. So this constant human movement is also a type of hope in God.

  • jay

    Daniel: Your latest piece is still badly muddled, which suggests you did not do much to clean up your prose from your earlier posts, or you really aren’t sure at all what you are trying to express. And if you’re not sure, you can’t expect your readers to spend time trying to decipher it.Fewer words, shorter sentences, simpler points. Give it a try.

  • A Hermit

    Daniel, I believe I responded in some detail to each of your points already; to put it bluntly, your “spin” on atheism does not reflect what I, or most of the atheists I know of, actually say.I’d like you to go back, read my previous comment, and see if you can spot how what I said is different from what you seem to think atheists are saying.You have to get away from this idea that atheism can only mean what YOU think it should mean and start listening to what it really means to those of us who actually consider ourselves to be atheists.RegardsA HermitPS, I know I’m th

  • jay

    “You have to get away from this idea that atheism can only mean what YOU think it should mean and start listening to what it really means to those of us who actually consider ourselves to be atheists.”Exactly. Listen to the wise hermit.

  • Lou Jobin

    I am a very comfortable Atheist. I am content knowing that the probability that any form of God exists is absolute zero. This is the same probability I give to the notion that human beings are immortal in one fashion or another. In spite of holding a minority view, I am comfortable living in a country where about half the population believe that the story of Noahs’ Ark is an actual historical event.For the most part I don’t care what others believe or practice. Putting religious displays on a court house lawn in December is just not a big deal. but it’s government intervention into scientific or personal matters such as efforts to limit stem cell research or the Terry Schivo fiasco that rational people should be upset about.I view most religions and their followers in a favorable light. Religion provides cohesion to a group, consoles those in need, promises an afterlife, and gives a sense of purpose to its followers.In the last 50 years or so the fires of hell have been all but extinguished. Today mainline churches have become little more than self help organizations. there is nothing wrong with that. The fact that people can get together in a constructive way to hug, help one another, participate in bible study groups that tell them how to become more like Jesus, and feel good about themselves is laudable. More discussion welcome it looks like I’m out of space. [email protected]

  • daniel

    To Jay and Hermit, I find your comments preposterous. One of the problems I have with you modern atheists, this movement of yours, is that very rarely do any of you really make an effort to compose a piece which is sound of your views. And a really big problem is this notion of your movement in general, this “this is not what we think. Do not try to speak for us” etc. as if atheism is some sort of church and no one is allowed to reflect on it without passing your sanction and blessing. I had this problem with a guy named E Favorite a bit ago. He got on a high horse and said I should not attempt to speak for atheists–that atheism will be explained to mere me by the atheists. Sorry, the relationship between atheism and religion is an age-old philosophical problem and modern atheists have not at all really presented anything solid to the rest of us–if the rest of us are to be classified as strictly not atheists.An example of a problem I have with your reasoning: The writer Hitchens recently issued this challenge: for a religious person to name a single ethical statement or action a religious person can make that an atheist cannot make. Furthermore Hitchens sneered that anyone can name a wicked action or statement a religious person has made. My answer to the challenge is simply that religious people believe in a God from which an absolute source of goodness emanates and that atheists choose not to believe in God and have by no means demonstrated an absolute source of goodness in the absence of a creator. This means that for atheists they are so far–until such an absolute source of goodness is demonstrated in the absence of creator–condemned to a world of ambiguity, a world in which man is only somewhat good at best. Now this “somewhat” world might be better than having the illusion in God and the hope in absolute goodness that religious people believe in–which is to say Hitchens’ challenge still stands–but modern atheists prefer to just say “man can be good without a belief in God” without being honest and just saying we live in a world of ambiguity. In fact atheists these days are flat out dishonest and are trying to cram all evil onto religion and separate the atheist position as something above evil. There is no choice for atheists but to admit the obvious: do you or do you not believe in an absolute source of goodness? If you do not–and I would expect you to say as much if you are honest and observent about the world around you–then stop pretending to be so good in respect to “evil religious people”. Another good example of contradictory modern atheist thinking is the position offered by another man: he listed all these atrocities which have occurred (tsunamis, hurricanes, etc.) and then said that God does not give a damn–in fact there is no God. But then–yep, you guessed it–he went on a spiel about evil religion and how enlightened atheists are and of course how good they are. Basic reasoning reveals that if there is no God and we live in a world of exactly the atrocities he listed, then what basis exactly is there for goodness in atheists? Atheists cannot possibly be a bunch of pure folk in respect to the religious. I would expect more consistent and honest reasoning from atheists. This modern atheism is a movement with all the flaws of movements of times past: emotional, not accurate as to reasoning, dependent on what the group thinks (this is not what most atheists think as an accusation to others, those that do not agree with the group, etc.). Dear atheists, I do not give a damn what your group thinks–your modern atheist movement. This is a problem that will outlast your silly movement today I can assure you. And I am a man of considerable intelligence and I will not allow atheism to get hijacked by left or right wing nonsense, personal vendettas against religion, etc. I will think through this problem to the best of my ability and present my findings. That is all.

  • Rob Adams

    Daniel.I think we see more “unreasonable” atheists now because athesits are finally demanding time at the table. They are similar to the “unreasonable” believers who really don’t understand what they say they believe. In order to get publicity it seems you need to make “unreasonable”statements… it makes for good radio and tv.Therefore the only way for a reasonable atheist or believer to get attention is demonstrating their beliefs through the actions. As the saying goes actions speak louder than words.Daniel until we are all truely enlightened we are all confined to a either a world of ambiguity or a closed minded stagnation. At least ambiguity leaves room for evolution.On that point the atheists have a leg up on us theists.

  • Dr. Phil

    “And I am a man of considerable intelligence…” Not so fast there Daniel. A legend in your own mind. How you start with a fairy tale and end up with your muddled mess of a belief system is amazing. step up the attack, the windmills are still winning.

  • E favorite

    Hello Jay and Hermit – here I am, that “guy named E Favorite” who got on a “high horse” and shut down further direct conversation with Daniel when he called my views “dishonest,” which is right up there with “preposterous” in my opinion.I thought you guys were doing a pretty nice job trying to communicate, but now I see a trend that bodes ill for productive conversation.

  • jay

    Daniel:To borrow from another discussion (these same topics arise again and again, don’t they?), how do YOU define good? The theists continue to push the idea that without god you can’t know what good is. My argument is that good and bad are relative things and certainly no one religion has a better handle on the concepts than another. But it’s the theist who keeps asking the question without answering it himself.As an atheist who refuses to kill infidels or blow myself up in a crowd of innocents, am I less conscious of what is good or bad than the radical Muslim theist who embraces such actions? An extreme example, yes, but it would seem to get to the core of your argument. If theistic religions can be all over the map in terms of good vs. bad, how can you claim that good emanates only from a belief in god?As has already been said, atheism is not a movement or a unifying philosophy. It is a descriptor that says very little, which is why I try to avoid it for myself. Naturalism, secular humanism … now those are terms that actually describe philosophies.

  • Rob Adams

    Jay you saidAbsolutely correct. Until the human race understands that we will continue to make mistakes in the name of good. The ideas or concepts that will move us forward us are far bigger than good and evil. They transcend religion and can be applied whether you are an atheist or theist.

  • jay

    The real issue at hand is the threat of dogmatic ideology, coupled with totalitarianism or similar extreme government. You can incorporate theism in such an ideology, or not.Most theists and atheists alike have a real problem with dogmatic ideology, as they should. As a naturalist/secular humanist, I would no more want to live under an atheistic communist government than a theocracy. Both are oppressive, with or without god in the mix. Secular democracy is probably the best we can hope for as a government. I don’t want to see theism eradicated, but I do want to see people critically analyzing it, without fear of being labeled evil, unAmerican, or other epithets.The allegedly rabid atheists of today are responding to what they see as a creeping tide of theocratic influence in America and some other democracies, and the more obvious full-blown theocratic totalitarianism elsewhere. I applaud them for ringing the alarm bell, to get people thinking about how religion is being misused and how shaky its foundations are. If they seem to overstate their case, and I don’t think they do, it’s no worse than the theistic ideologies that have been pushed throughout history.

  • daniel

    Amazing–simply amazing. Here I am spending day and night trying to honestly examine the problem of atheism in relationship to faith–go down point by point on problems–and we get the above replies by the atheists. Is it at all so complex for me to ask that you yourselves just try to assemble a piece as I have been doing to explain to us morons (those of us not in the gifted modern atheist fold) what exactly you mean and so we can think over the problem correctly instead of one or two comment replies? Are you at all people capable of composing a piece of writing? Once again I will stick my neck out so you cowards can cut it off.1) Atheism is the dismissal of the concept of God. But there is no proof God does not exist. There is no proof he exists but neither is there proof that he does not exist. It would be fair to state that we should not allow a belief in God to step in the way of attempts to prove or disprove God. That is being honest.2) Religious people have a hope in God as the absolute creator and source of absolute goodness. Atheists dismiss God and if scientific will admit there is no evidence for absolute goodness or evil in existence. Result: an ambiguous world. Second result from the standpoint of physics: a world of pure flux–change–which man must constantly adapt to and master or be nothing.3) Buddhism is not atheism according to science because although not holding a creator it does have a creator in a sense by positing the concept of nirvana. Furthermore Buddhism is problematical from the standpoint of the unscientific concept of reincarnation. Furthermore Buddhism is problematical from the standpoint of holding quite fixed notions of good and evil. 4) Arguing that catastrophes such as tsunamis, etc. are proof of God’s nonexistence results in the nature is evil argument which cuts into notions of man being able to be good in the absence of God. If we try to rescue the reasoning by saying man is naturally good we enter into nature being good. If we enter into nature being good we regress into the possibility of intelligent design. If we enter into intelligent design we enter the possibility of God. And if we try to straddle the issue in the sense of nature being good but without God we enter something of Taoism and atheists are forced to speak of a “way” which has been lost to monotheistic religions–which is to say atheists become something of Taoists at best and not atheists because there is no underlaying “way” for atheists. Atheism is man living by his own hands and mind in a world of flux.5) The problem of one saying one can be good in the absence of God as if this is proof of atheism or something. A parable I will now invent: Once upon a time there was a dictator who expected certain actions from his people. Gradually as the people followed these actions the dictator stepped back. Eventually he stepped back so much his people no longer believed in his existence. But they still followed his rules…Atheists being good in the absence of God still follow the same old rules with or without God. How really are we to know if God truly does not exist with these actions or has merely stepped back?6) Atheism properly speaking is demonstrated by being not only good in the absence of God, but evil, because only with evil can one totally step out of the paradigm of religion and truly demonstrate no residue of fear of God remains. But of course stepping too far into evil cuts into man being able to go down through the centuries without God, so in a sense there is a limit to truly proving one’s atheism–or one truly proves it at the expense of everyone and everything.7) Atheism cannot be for individuality over collectivity as religion is for the simple reason that in religions–particularly religions with the atheist’s hated God–it matters little whether the whole human race fails or is condemned to hell,–if only one is good then one is saved. The atheist position on the contrary is a world without God and man must be subordinated to the only hope toward success in such a world which is the pure survival of the human race. This is not to say individuality will be discounted–on the contrary. Suppose scientists were to present to the president–any president really–evidence of no God. The result would be all subordinated to society and the upswing of eugenics, genetic engineering, etc. But no matter the glorious individuals born, the individual would be subordinated to what is best for the collective. And no do not say eugenics is junk science: we breed dogs, cats, horses and we practice eugenics in choice of marriage partners–or are atheists in the habit of marrying retarded people? Perhaps.8) Why not go over Hitchens argument again to close (I have no more time) as someone said I admitted Hitchens argument still stands? Hitchens made this challenge (please stick your nose up my tail E Favorite): For a believer to name an ethical statement or action a religious person can make that an atheist cannot. Hitchens also sneered that anyone can name an evil statement or action a religious person has made. My answer is that religious people believe in an absolute good derived from a creator. Atheists have no absolute good so they are condemned to an ambiguous world. It might be this ambiguous world is better than having the illusion in God–AND HERE IS WHERE I SAID PREVIOUSLY THAT HITCHENS CHALLENGE STILL STANDS–but anyone but a moron can see that IT ALSO MIGHT BE THAT WITHOUT THE ILLUSION OF GOD AND ABSOLUTE GOOD THINGS MIGHT BE WORSE. We just do not know. That is called honesty. To close, I fail to see how modern atheists cannot understand that they of all people are required to be honest. They themselves assert they are proceeding by reason and not “reason”–which is to say personal vendetta, emotion, illusion, etc.

  • jay

    “Is it at all so complex for me to ask that you yourselves just try to assemble a piece as I have been doing to explain to us morons (those of us not in the gifted modern atheist fold) what exactly you mean and so we can think over the problem correctly instead of one or two comment replies? Are you at all people capable of composing a piece of writing? Once again I will stick my neck out so you cowards can cut it off.”How nice. Why are you so angry?Apparently you have more time to assemble long, rambling, semi-coherent manifestos than the rest of us. I think your questions have been asked and answered in several different places by several different people. Sorry it does not meet your standards, but that is no concern to me.

  • daniel

    To satisfy Jay I will now look over the responses above. Jay just offered this as a response: How nice. Why are you so angry? Thank you for those insights into atheism. Then we get “your answers have been asked and answered in several different places by several different people. Sorry they do not meet your standards”.Meet my standards? Dear atheists, your position is dependent on the most strict of standards possible. Your position depends on the pure use of reason–it is reason directly opposed to mere faith in God. Of all people you should be the most exacting.Let me see, we have a doctor Phil above calling me a legend in my own mind with a muddled belief system. Belief system? I was just reflecting for a moment. I am not so weak to walk around my entire life with the above noted points in my hand ready to show every passer-bye. I simply think–and about a lot of things.Rob Adams was honest and said the response from atheists has been the way it is because of trying to get a place at the table in American life full of nonsense religious babbling (essentially this is what he said). I fully agree. And I would make clear now I am not particularly religious. I have no church. Where Rob Adams went wrong in my opinion is he said “until we are all enlightened…” Ah, problematical statement. Enlightened? How does that square with atheism? What do you mean by enlightened? In the Buddhist sense or by genetic engineering and elevating collective I.Q.? That needs to be clarified. Certainly according to atheism the enlightenment can only be by man’s own hands–more discovery and creativity than enlightenment.Jay now does get interesting. He asks me to define the good. A good question Jay. How I would answer that according to the atheist position is that the good can only be what will enable the human race to continuously adapt to existence in a world without God. Without God the human race is forced to make itself or be nothing. It must master existence. Good and evil–the discussion of such–are subordinated to adaptive system thinking according to biology. And of course religions in that sense have hardly begun to get at good and evil. But neither have atheists. Tell me, do any atheists view the logical consequence of not believing in God a human system–the human race–forced to continuously make itself, all essentially subordinated to what will ensure the human race goes down through the centuries? I think not. Most atheists seem to view a world without religion some sort of happy, finally released life. Basic reasoning says if it is demonstrated there is no God then all human politics and economics will be radically oriented toward “ship at storm policy” where all is toward ensuring the human race does not falter because quite simply there is no other salvation than man making things by his own hands. Does that answer your question? Maybe atheists had better tell us the consequences politically of living in a world without God. Have I covered the above questions? Let me take another gander. Oh, one guy I remember above did make a nice point. He said the true battle is not between atheism and religion but a belief in God and naturalism or something like that. I agree–and I am on the naturalism side! You silly atheists!–I am one of you much more than I am on the religious side!–only I seem to be more honest about the problems and try to anticipate possible issues. I cannot stress enough that the atheist position is sharply distinguished from trends, typical political positions, ideologies, beliefs, etc. because it stands or falls according to level of reasoning power. I doubt it can be made into a movement because the movement would have to be composed of the brutally honest and intelligent–an elite. It cannot be sustained by people with mere personal vendettas against religion, emotional issues, etc. After-all, it is the question of whether or not God exists we are asking and how to live in a world without God. That should be all for now.

Read More Articles

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

shutterstock_186686495
The End of Surveillance for New York Muslims — For Now

How American Muslims modeled the right response to systematic injustice.